Every year, when the leaves start to fall off of trees, we see a little guy just like this hanging in the tree between our yard and our neighbors. And, that typically spurs a “hey, we should go See Rock City.” But, we never have.
On May 21, Rock City will be celebrating it’s 80th anniversary. It features a trail about three-quarters of a mile long that winds through ancient rock formations, out to beautiful mountain views (legend has it you can see seven states) and around a woodland garden among other fun things (like the White Fallow deer, Fairyland Caverns, and the rock-climbing wall).
Rock City celebrates Founder’s Day and the first 80 people through the gates will be able to “See Rock City” for the original ticket price of 25 cents. At 1 p.m. that same day, Rocky, the mascot, will host a birthday party with sugar cookies and lemonade, the same menu as opening day.
The birthday party will take place at Lover’s Leap, one of the most scenic vistas in all of the Southeast. They’ve recently added elevated terrace seating with two fireplaces offers seating for guests to dine and take in the “view of seven states.” The New Binkley Brothers, Rock City’s “house band,” will entertain guests with authentic Old-Time, a style of Southern Appalachia folk music, from the new permanent stage.
Founder’s Day is just one of many special events planned throughout the year at Rock City. Shamrock City and EarthDayz were held in March and April. The Southern Blooms Festival, celebrating the gardens, is set for May 4-6. Summer Music Weekends, Rocktoberfest, the Enchanted MAiZE/Blowing Scream Farm and the Enchanted Garden of Lights are all scheduled for later this year.
While the pop culture status of Rock City remains and is something they still pay homage to through advertising and barn souvenirs, much of their focus has been on stewardship and conservation – not only being good stewards of these natural wonders but also sustaining the creativity and uniqueness of the community around them. Along with reducing (power, water, waste), reusing (wood and other materials for projects) and recycling, Chapin and Kean also have started ensuring the culture of the local area is imbued in the Rock City experience.
“We know there’s a large amount of ‘cultural capital’ here in Chattanooga, so we not only want to provide access to beautiful views but also a gateway to the local culture through art and music,” said Kean, president and COO of See Rock City, Inc. “If we miss this, we miss a pretty substantial piece of the sustainability equation. #2ural resources are only part of sustainability; it’s also about the people and the quality of life.”
And, of course, travelers on the highways and backroads of America can still see nearly 100 barns from Texas to Michigan with the famous phrase “See Rock City” emblazed on the roof. Several are being repainted by Jim Byers, son of Rock City’s original barn painter Clark Byers, and Don Parris this spring as part of the 80th anniversary celebration.
Tickets are $18.95 for adults and $10.95 for children (kids under 3 get in free). Annual passes are $34 for adults and $18 for kids and include unlimited daytime admission to the attraction, food and retail discounts and other specials.